Thursday, January 28, 2010

Valentine's Day Orchids

What is the most commonly gifted gift plant on Valentine's Day? That's easy, orchids! I remember a time, not so long ago, when orchid plants were mysterious and incredibly exquisite. It is not the orchid that is changing (although you can find orchids at your local florist), it is me. Orchids continue to intrigue people, especially those that like high style and enjoy an exquisite gift. So I ponder, why are orchids the most popular gift plant or what is it about orchids that make them so exquisite. Ok, I'll write about that!

In case you don't know, orchid plants are higher level plants that have existed way back since the dinosaurs. Many are air plants that live off the air you and I breathe to survive.

This makes them special plants indeed. Since orchids are not extinct and have survived for millennium, they have become highly evolved. Many advances in orchid breeding and growing have created an abundant supply of orchid plants such as phalaenopsis, cattleya, oncidium alliance and the new intergeneric orchids from Hawaii.

Your first look at an orchid sparks intrigue and you are beckoned by the orchid flower to take a closer look. You may find the orchid is not fragrant. Most orchids do not have a scent, but many are fragrant! Now you know why orchid plants are so popular.
Next, orchid plant gifts are very exquisite. I guess 'exquisite' is the best word to describe a gift orchid. Imagine the look on their face, when they open the box and inside find a perfectly wrapped orchid. Barring the orchid box is not smashed by FedEx, USPS, or UPS - the recipient receives a living, blooming orchid plant with instructions on how to care for it. With proper care, many orchids can last a lifetime.

You smile at the beautiful blooms and think, what kind of plant is this? You discover it's an orchid and your big smile widens. All your worries disappear as you ponder how special you are to be the recipient of a gift orchid on Valentine's Day.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Winter Orchids - More About Winter Orchids

One of the best things about orchids is that you can find blooming orchids year round. At this time of the year, the most popular orchid houseplant, Phalaenopsis, is blooming. These plants have long graceful inflorescences (stems) holding large flowers. They will last up to four months under good household conditions and are a real bargain when compared to other blooming plants or cut flowers. The flowers come in a variety of colors from white, pink, purple, red, orange, and yellow.

Another winter favorite is the Cymbidium orchid. These cheerful plants will flower for around two months in a variety of colors
and sizes. They come in a variety of colors from white with colored lips, through the oranges and reds, and lavenders. They have been bred for years and it is possible to find almost any color or color combination that you wish. The standard size will produce inflorescences of approximately 3 feet or, or 90 centimeters; the compact and miniature plants are somewhat smaller and the inflorescences only one or two (2) feet or 30-60 centimeters. They are very popular on the west coast in the United States and are often used in outdoor plantings in the northern part of the state where there are cool but not freezing temperatures. My favorite variety to brighten up a dull January is the lemon yellow varieties with up to 15 flowers on an inflorescence.

Many Oncidium Alliance plants are now blooming with a profusion of small flowers that will move in a breeze. Their fanciful name, Dancing Ladies, describes exactly how the flowers look as they move. They come in an amazing variety of sizes and colors for all decorating needs and will last for about a month. One of the most interesting of these is the Psychopsis orchid which looks like a big butterfly at the end of its stalk. They are bright yellow with orange striping. Another interesting member of the Oncidium family, Tolumnia is a tiny plant which will fit into any space. They need a fair amount of sun to bloom, but are long
lasting and very showy.

Another winter flowering orchid is the Paphiopedilum or Lady Slipper. You would never guess that they are in the orchid family when you first see them. They have a large dorsal (top) petal, two side sepals and a slipper shaped lip after which they are named. They come in colors ranging from green through the darkest purple. Some have but one flower on an inflorescence, while others are multi-floral or have more than one flower on an inflorescence. The flowers are very long lasting and the plants will grow in low light situations making them very popular for windowsill growers.

So, brighten up your January and February with one of these blooming orchids and chase away the winter blues!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Winter Orchids

What do you call orchids that bloom in the winter? Winter orchids! or winter blooming orchids... I like winter orchids better. That's why I am going to write about winter orchids and tell you what I think makes them so special.

First of all, as we all know, it's cooler in the winter. Inside the orchid greenhouse is not so hot yet with temperature controlled greenhouses, the ambiance (is that the word) of the greenhouse feels very mild. In other words, it's not so hot! Orchid flowers enjoy heat (but not too hot) and the warmer they are the faster they bloom. When it's cooler, the orchid flowers seem to bloom for months. Some orchids have stayed in bloom for nine months. Wow! And it's cooler in the greenhouse. :)

Next, the bright colors of the orchid flowers contrast starkly with the grey of the winter sky. Things do get a little gloomy in winter, but the color of blooming orchids can take your breath away! You can't help but smile coming in from the winter, into a greenhouse filled with blooming orchids.
Lastly, winter orchids come in all sizes but none as beautiful as cymbidiums. In California, our cymbidium orchids bloom big time. With so many new color varieties now available in the cymbidium orchid family, you can't help but select a beautiful plant that will last for a life time is properly cared for.
I like winter orchids because they stay in bloom for a long time, come in every color of the rainbow and can put a smile on an angry person and lastly, cymbidium orchids are in bloom in winter, woohoo!